NFL notes: Vikings to suspend coordinator for anti-gay slurs
NFL • Investigation came after ex-punter alleged bias by coaches.
Published: July 19, 2014 01:58PM
Updated: July 18, 2014 10:56PM
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Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, right, speaks during a press conference, Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minn. Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe intends to sue the team over allegations of anti-gay conduct by a coach, his lawyer said Tuesday. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune,Elizabeth Flores ) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES TV OUT

The Minnesota Vikings will suspend special teams coordinator Mike Priefer without pay for three games this season and donate $100,000 to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups, in response to former punter Chris Kluwe’s allegations of anti-gay slurs and taunts made by Priefer.

The Vikings released Friday a summary of the investigation by outside lawyers that was initiated in January, when Kluwe first accused Priefer and other Vikings officials of punishing him for his support of gay marriage. Kluwe was let go last year, which he argued was because of his views.

The Vikings said the move was strictly performance-based after they drafted Jeff Locke in the fifth round and Kluwe was due to make $1.45 million in the 2013 season.

The Vikings said Priefer’s ban could be reduced to two games at their discretion, provided he attends individualized anti-harassment, diversity and sexual-orientation sensitivity training.

In a statement from the team, Priefer apologized to owners Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf, the organization, the fans, his family, the LGBT community, Kluwe and “anyone else that I offended with my insensitive remark.”

Kluwe, however, said Friday he still intends to sue the team for discrimination, against his gay-rights activism and agnostic beliefs, as well as defamation and wrongful interference of his contract.

Niners’ Smith sentenced to probation

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was sentenced Friday to serve three years of probation and to spend 11 days with a work crew after he pleaded no contest to drunken driving and weapons charges.

The sentence came after Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Daniel Nishigaya reduced three felony counts of possessing illegal assault rifles to misdemeanors. The judge noted that Smith has no criminal record involving violence, but warned the 24-year-old football star that if he violates any of terms of his probation, he will be sent to jail for 11 days.

Smith was also told to serve 235 hours of community service and pay nearly $4,000 in fines.

The weapons charges stem from an out-of-control party at Smith’s house in 2012, where he got stabbed and two people were shot. Investigators later found three rifles in Smith’s house that were legally bought in Arizona, but are illegal in California.

The DUI charges were filed after Smith’s car smashed into a tree in San Jose last Fall. Police said his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

League to limit underclassman draft evaluations

The NFL will limit the number of underclassmen who can receive evaluations for the draft to five from a single school, although special exceptions will be allowed.

Concerned about the record 107 underclassmen who applied for this year’s draft, and with 37 of them not selected, the league’s College Advisory Committee developed new guidelines for players considering forfeiting their final years of eligibility.

Troy Vincent, the league’s head of football operations, said Friday the underclassmen will be advised on their potential to be picked in the first or second round. They also could be advised to stay in school.

Previous assessments dealt with the first through third rounds, and whether a player had no potential of being selected.

“When you look at our accuracy rate, we did a good job evaluating first- and second-round picks,” Vincent told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Below — the third, fourth and fifth rounds — a lot of these players were not getting drafted. It’s better for these young men to remain a student-athlete for another year.”

Only two schools, LSU and California, had more than five underclassmen in this year’s draft. Six of LSU’s seven players were chosen, while only two of the six from Cal were drafted.

Qualifications for an exception will be taken on a case-by-case basis by the NFL committee.

Vincent emphasized the league is not prohibiting underclassmen from entering the draft, but “we want them to make an informed decision.”

Bon Jovi part of Toronto group looking at buying Bills

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is part of a Toronto group that has retained a banking firm and submitted paperwork expressing interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, three people who have reviewed documents regarding the sale process told The Associated Press on Friday.

It is unclear if the group would eventually want to move the NFL team to Toronto. The club is on the market after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March.

The three people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Friday because the process is private and the Toronto group has not revealed its intentions.

The group includes Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family. Tanenbaum is chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which controls the NHL’s Maple Leafs and NBA’s Raptors. The Rogers family includes Edward Rogers, who is deputy chairman of Rogers, the Toronto communications giant.

The group is on a list of prospective buyers who have submitted a nondisclosure agreement form to Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the Bills sale. The Toronto group has retained the Goldman Sachs banking firm to assist in the bid.

Bon Jovi previously expressed interest in owning an NFL franchise but never specifically mentioned the Bills. This is the first real indication linking him to Tanenbaum and Rogers.

One of the people confirmed that Bon Jovi discussed his interests during a restaurant meeting last month with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Bills most recently were valued by Forbes at $870 million. They are projected to be sold for at least $1 billion, partly because NFL teams rarely go on the market.

The team is essentially locked into playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through the 2019 season because of a strict nonrelocation clause included in a 10-year lease agreement reached with the state and county in December 2012.

Ex-players: Painkillers easy to get through 2012

Dozens of former players joining a lawsuit against the NFL say teams kept handing out powerful painkillers and other drugs with few — if any— safeguards as recently as 2012. That extends by four years the time frame for similar claims made in the original complaint and could open the door to a criminal investigation.

“On flights home, the routine was the same everywhere,” said Brett Romberg, who played center in Jacksonville (2003-05), St. Louis (2006-08) and Atlanta (2009 and 2011). “The trainers walked up and down the aisle and you’d hold up your hand with a number of fingers to show how many pills you wanted. No discussions, no questions. You just take what they hand you and believe me, you’ll take anything to dull the pain.”

With the federal Drug Enforcement Administration beginning to look into accusations contained in the lawsuit — filed in May and covering the years 1968-2008 — the new allegations could dramatically expand the investigation’s scope, legal experts said. Any violation of federal drug laws after 2009 would not be subject to the five-year statute of limitations.

“Then it’s no longer just about money. Then it’s potentially about criminal conduct and that’s a completely different ballpark,” said Steven Feldman, a former assistant U.S. Attorney for New York’s southern district.